Cable-Tec Expo: Aurora Stretches Edge QAMs Out To The Node

Aurora Networks is announcing a "Remote QAM" solution that promises to let MSOs extend the digital-to-RF interface out into the node -- an industry first, the vendor claims, that provides flexibility in adding narrowcast services on a node-by-node basis.

The RQ4000-series Remote QAM, which plugs in as a module to Aurora's optical platform, is based on the multiplexing and QAM modulation technology acquired from GoBackTV in May 2011.

Aurora said the first release of the Remote QAM module, to be available next summer, will provide 64 QAM ports. A 160-QAM version is targeted for 2013.

The new node QAM can be configured either for "fiber deep" or traditional hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) architectures. It supports up to 158 incremental QAM channels, while connecting to Aurora's headend-based Universal Services Multiplexer via digital optical transport. In the absence of legacy analog and broadcast QAM signals, it enables the operator to move the digital/RF interface all the way to the node, according to Aurora.

"Aurora Networks believes that the evolution of the node is essential to the future success of cable operators," vice president of marketing John Dahlquist said. "The Remote QAM module is a natural extension of our product line -- a unique next-generation access solution that helps operators achieve scalability and flexibility with lower overhead costs."

By extending the edge QAM to the node, operators can lower costs for electricity, backup power, and cooling and heating in the headend. The Remote QAM also potentially eliminates having to redesign the RF combining network or rebalance the HFC plant as subscriber services evolve.

In addition, the Remote QAM can dynamically support any mix of digital services within the same QAM channel, including broadcast video, switched digital video (SDV), video-on-demand, network-based DVR and DOCSIS data traffic. Aurora also claims that the solution offers better signal quality because QAM RF signals are generated in the node (closer to the premises than the headend).

Separately Tuesday, Aurora is announcing that Armstrong Communications has deployed 100 of Aurora's VHubs in an "RF over glass" network architecture, letting the cable operator extend its reach into rural areas. "Our RFoG deployments have reduced routine plant maintenance and energy bills, while significantly improving network reliability," Armstrong chief technology officer Mike Giobbi said in a statement.

Armstrong, which is the 14th-largest cable company in the U.S., provides service in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland.